TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS
In camp (6): OLB Vic Beasley Jr., OLB Harold Landry III, OLB Kamalei Correa, OLB Derick Roberson, OLB D'Andre Walker, OLB Josh Smith.
Offseason developments: The Titans signed Beasley to a one-year deal, and he joined his new teammates in the virtual offseason program after spending the past five seasons in Atlanta. The team also re-signed Correa to a one-year deal, and OLB Reggie Gilbert inked a one-year contract as well. Gilbert, however, was waived/injured on Tuesday. The team released veteran Cameron Wake, who remains a free agent, and looking for a new team. Correa added boxing to his offseason regimen, and he believes it will help him with his cardio, footwork, and hands on the football field this fall. Walker, who spent last season on Injured Reserve, said he got completely healthy this offseason and is prepared to battle for a roster spot. Titans coach Mike Vrabel gave outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen a nice nod earlier this offseason by publicly indicating the plan is for Bowen to take the defensive lead in situations when Vrabel is tied up in business on other parts of the team. Smith, who played collegiately at Vanderbilt, re-signed with the Titans back in January. He was placed on the team's Reserve-COVID 19 list on Monday.
In the spotlight: Beasley. A first-round pick (8th overall) of the Falcons in the 2015 NFL Draft, Beasley was the team's most notable addition at the start of free agency. The Titans think Beasley, who has 37.5 career sacks, can make a big impact off the edge. The 6-foot-3, 246-pound Beasley had eight sacks in 2019, and five sacks in 2018. He led the NFL with a whopping 15.5 sacks in 2016, when the Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl. Beasley was named to his first Pro Bowl and earned AP All-Pro honors for his breakout performance in 2016. Over the past five years, Beasley ranks 16th in the NFL in sacks by "edge" rushers (OLB's/DE's). Out of the gate, Beasley has some catching up to do. He reported to camp late, and on Tuesday was placed on the team's Non-Football injury list. Beasley is eligible to re-join practices upon passing a physical.
Battle to watch: OLB Derick Roberson vs. OLB D'Andre Walker. While the Titans hope Beasley and Landry will make a pretty nice tandem on the outside, let's not forget about Correa, who had the best season of his career in 2019 when he recorded 37 tackles, five sacks and seven quarterback pressures. Correa added sacks of Baltimore's Lamar Jackson and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs. Behind Beasley, Landry and Correa, the Titans need more help in the rotation, and this is where Roberson and Walker have a chance. An undrafted rookie in 2019, Roberson flashed down the stretch last fall. Walker, a fifth-round pick out of Georgia in 2019, is talented, and motivated, after spending all of last season on Injured Reserve. Smith, who spent three weeks of the 2019 regular season and all of the postseason on the team's practice squad, will aim to impress in camp himself. Which guys will rise to the occasion? And how many guys can the team afford to keep on the 55-man roster? Plus, will the Titans add another outside backer to the mix at some point?
Keep an eye on: Harold Landry. A second-round pick of the Titans in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Boston College, Landry led the Titans with nine sacks in 2019, and he added another in the postseason. He finished second on the team with 28 quarterback pressures. It was quite a leap from his performance as a rookie, when he had 4.5 sacks and 18 pressures. The Titans want to get more bang for their buck with Landry in 2020, and they plan to do so by watching his snaps. According to Pro Football Reference, Landry played in 85.84 percent of the team's defensive snaps in 2019 – a total of 952 snaps. He played another 25 snaps on special teams. It's one of the reasons Landry recorded all nine of his regular sacks in the first 12 games, and he went the final four games of December without one. If the Titans can limit Landry's snaps early, he could be even more of a factor late.
Next up: Cornerbacks
Titans Online looks back at outside linebacker Harold Landry's 2019 season (Photos: Donald Page)
A look back at outside linebacker Kamalei Correa's 2019 season. (Photos: Donald Page)
A look back at outside linebacker Vic Beasley's first five NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. (AP Photos)